General/Ancestry Research Guides

Family Relationship Chart: Types, Examples, and a Printable Template

data icon 03.28.2022
Family Relationship Chart

When we think of genealogy and the representation of family relationships, we usually immediately think of family trees. However, “a family tree” is a concept that includes in itself many kinds of diagrams and charts. And as anyone who’s taken more than just a passing interest in the subject will tell you, there is an entire range of options to choose from when it comes to illustrating your ancestry. 

So if you’re wondering how to make a family relationship chart, here are some types you’re likely to encounter as you set about recording your family history:

Read on to learn more about each type, as well as some other less known types.

Family Chart

A family chart, or pedigree chart, is what most people think of when they talk of family trees. These charts are characterized by a series of lines originating from one point. The lines represent the relationships between parents and offspring. The point from which they originate is the person of interest – the focal point of the whole chart. The chart is built by going backward in time. It starts with the person around whom the chart is being built, adds their parents on two branches, and then their grandparents, their great grandparents, and so on. In the end, every individual listed on an ancestor or pedigree chart will have a direct relationship connecting them to the first person on the family chart, across one or more generations. In other words, an ancestor family chart displays the direct ancestors of an individual – their pedigree.

Here is an example of an ancestor family chart by Treemily:ancestor family chart

available at

Download a Family-Tree-Chart for your family history research.

Another way to visualize this family history data in an attractive way is in a family tree:

Treemily Ancestor Family Tree

Descendant Chart

A descendant chart is exactly the same as an ancestor chart but with one crucial difference. Instead of starting with one person and going backward in time, the descendant chart does the opposite. It starts with an individual and goes forwards in time. It branches downwards to show their offspring – their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. Every person listed on the descendant family chart will have a direct relationship with the ancestor at the root of the chart. In other words, a descendant chart shows the direct descendants of an individual.

A good example of a descendant chart would be Descendant Treemily:

Descendent Family Tree Treemily

available at

Other Family Relationship Charts 

All-in-One Tree 

An all-in-one tree is exactly that, it is a type of chart that shows everyone in the family. It goes upwards to show ancestors, downwards to show descendants, and sideways to show cousins. As you might imagine, all-in-one trees can easily get confusing if you try to cram too many family members into one chart. So they are great when used in a limited scope, for example, if you want to display the relationships among the members in the current generation of a family. 

Family Group Record (or Sheet) 

Family group records are different from the charts we have looked at so far in that they are not organized as trees. They are better thought of as ordered series of fact sheets about the different individual families that, together, form the overarching family tree. Each fact sheet will therefore have details about one set of parents and their children. Each record will list the members of one family unit along with relevant information and dates pertaining to the individuals in that family.

Fan Chart 

A fan chart is a variation of the ancestor tree or descendant tree. In a fan chart, however, instead of splitting branches growing from the first person in the middle, the starting individual is represented as a small circle in the center of the chart. Subsequent generations are then added as outer layers to that initial circle, spreading out to form a larger circle or part of a circle. In that sense, it is a kind of family generation chart.

The inner-circle will have the starting individual, and then their parents will occupy the first layer, grandparents the next, and so on. Each section of what would be a descendant or ancestor family tree is thus represented by a sort of pizza slice of the fan chart, making it easy to see which branches do not have information.

Kinship Report 

A kinship report is a glossary of sorts for a family from the perspective of one individual. It is an ordered list of members of the family which details their relationship to that particular person – the subject of the kinship report. The idea is to be able to look up family members in the report and immediately see what their relationship is to the subject of the kinship report.

Each family member is therefore listed in alphabetical order, with their relationship to the person, along with civil or canon codes that denote how far along with the family bloodline the two are separated. 

Timeline Chart 

A timeline chart displays the lives of family members using parallel bars that stretch across years. This makes it possible to see which family members lived in which generations, as well as how the lives of contemporary family members overlapped.

Waterfall Chart 

The waterfall chart is another variation of the descendant chart just organized a little differently. It starts with the subject in the top left corner and displays descendants flowing down diagonally across to the bottom right.

Bow-Tie Family Trees 

Bow-tie family trees are so named because of the distinctive bow-tie-shaped pattern they have. They have essentially conjoined ancestor charts. To reduce the vertical space taken up by a normal ancestor family chart, the chart starts with the parents of the final descendant in the middle. The chart grows horizontally with the ancestors from the maternal side of the family on one side, and those from the paternal side on the other.

Ahnentafel Chart

If you had to figure out a way to display an ancestor or pedigree chart without using any diagrams, you’d probably turn to the Ahnentafel chart. This is an indexed list of the direct ancestors of a person that uses a simple but efficient numbering system. The person of interest is given number 1, their father is 2, and mother 3. The numbering system continues to the paternal grandfather and grandmother – 4 and 5 respectively, and then the maternal grandparents, 6 and 7. You then continue a generation up with the same system. With this scheme, all-male ancestors are denoted by an even number, and females are all odd. With a little mathematics, you can work out which generation a particular ancestor belongs to using their number.

Family Tree Worksheet 

A family tree worksheet helps you to go about researching your family history in a structured way. It provides a framework of the information you can put together about the members of your family as you build your family tree. This could include physical details like their description, and health-related information, or details about their education and career.  A family tree worksheet works as a kind of family tree chart template that helps you ensure you do not miss important information as you gather data to build your family tree.


There are many different ways to build a family tree, and, depending on your particular situation, you may want to display the information you find in several ways. Thankfully, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the options available. And if you are wondering how to make a family tree chart, there are various charts that help you highlight the information you want, or show your family from a particular perspective, as well as tools to keep you on track as you collect the information to document your family history. The different options listed in the article will get you started and will help you understand the purposes of each of them.

The most flexible online option is the Treemily Family Chart and you will enjoy the fun and easy way of working with it! Further on, you can build your family trees – like the Treemily Ancestor Family Tree, and commemorate your heritage.




Post Written by Treemily

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